Chapter After removing the air and flattening the

Chapter 2:
Life Cycle Analysis of Plastic Bags 

Source: FactoryDirect, n.d.

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Each year, in excess of 5 trillion plastic
bags are produced each year (FactoryDirect, n.d.). These
products are of the utmost importance to the majority of Filipino retailers and
are a normal part of life for consumers. From the acquisition of raw materials,
through to the manufacturing process, distribution, and post-consumer use, on a
whole, plastic bags have the potential to cause a large amount of harm to the
ecosystems they are introduced to.

 

As seen in figure 1, in
most cases, plastic bags start as crude oil (FactoryDirect, n.d.). The
process of the extraction of crude oil has an extremely negative effect on the
surrounding environment, activities such as drilling, ground clearing, waste
management, vehicular and pedestrian traffic, ground grading, and construction
and installation of facilities all have extensive negative impacts on the local
ecosystem, made worse by a larger number of oil wells, pipelines, access roads,
and other ancillary facilities (eg., compressor stations or pumping
stations) (TEEIC, n.d.).This oil is then heated until it produces
ethylene gas (FactoryDirect, n.d.), which is then converted into
polyethylene (FatoryDirect, n.d.). The polyethylene is then formed into
pellets. These pellets are heated by an extruder to around 260°C,
which melts them (Korpella, 2017).
The now molten plastic is forced through the machine and pushed through a
die which controls the thickness of the plastic (Korpella, 2017). Air is
used to force the plastic film into a bubbl e that travels skyward approximately
three stories to cool the product. After removing the air and flattening the
bubble, the film is cut to size and wrapped on a spindle (Korpella, 2017).After
this process has been completed, the roll of film is unwrapped and carved using
a heated knife that seals the sides of the bag and cuts it to size
(Korpella, 2017). Designs are also added to the bag id needed, such as
handles, gussets and seals, which are attached with heat or by ultrasonic
means (Korpella, 2017). Within the Philippines, there are many plastic bag
manufacturers and suppliers, located mainly within the Metro Manila area, some
examples of these are United Polyresins Inc., Dynapak Philippines Inc., Plastic
Consumer Corporation/Donewell Plastics, and A.R. Plastic Packaging Corporation.

 

Even just in the
manufacturing process, the negative impact on the surrounding environment is
huge, air quality is detrimentally effected due to the emissions generated through
the drilling of oil, and in production, plastic bags are created using fossil
fuels, and require the use of large amounts of water and electricity for the
manufacturing and shipping process. Plastic bag production makes use of billions
of pounds of fossil fuels as well as billions of gallons of fresh water
(Reusethisbag.com, n.d.). This manufacturing process also produces billions
of pounds of solid waste and millions of tons of CO2 every year
(Reusethisbag.com, n.d.)  – All of
which will be added to the pollution in and around Metro Manila.

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